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Delta Variant Will Make Up Majority Of Chicago’s COVID Cases By Next Month — But Vaccines Can Protect You, Officials Say

Delta is far more contagious than the original virus, increasing the risk a person will come into contact with and could get sick from COVID-19.

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at the mass vaccination site in the Jones Convocation Center on the campus of Chicago State University on April 7, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — City officials are encouraging people to get fully vaccinated against coronavirus as the more-contagious Delta variant spreads.

Cases are already rising in Chicago and across the country, with some states seeing significant surges. For the first time in months, Chicago reported an average of 100 new cases per day Tuesday. Experts have blamed the Delta variant, which is spreading rapidly.

The Delta variant accounts for an estimated 44 percent of all COVID-19 cases in Chicago — but it’ll be responsible for the majority of cases as early as next month, Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said during a Tuesday news conference.

At the same time, more than 95 percent of locals who are hospitalized or who have recently died from COVID-19 didn’t have all their vaccine shots, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday.

The three vaccines approved for use in the United States have been shown to still be largely effective at preventing severe illness and death from the Delta variant, Arwady said.

Delta has not yet been shown to make people sicker, but it’s far more contagious than the original virus, increasing the risk a person will come into contact with and could get sick from COVID-19.

For example, someone sick with the original virus transmits it to about two other people, on average, if they aren’t vaccinated or wearing masks, Arwady said. But people who have the Delta variant are transmitting the virus to three or four people, on average, when not vaccinated or wearing masks.

That’s exponential rise, with the variant spreading “very, very quickly,” Arwady said. “We are seeing more cases of Delta in the hospital, but not disproportionately. … It’s not that it makes people sicker, necessarily; but you’re more likely to get infected to start with … .”

People can protect themselves, their families and communities from the variant by getting vaccinated, Lightfoot said.

“Vaccine isn’t just a feel-good thing. It’s about protecting you from sickness and death,” Lightfoot said Tuesday. At another point, she said, “We can’t allow it to spread further or faster than it already has, and it already has incredible momentum. If we don’t stall this, we’ll have to wait this much longer to be able to formally turn the page and put this pandemic in the past, in the rearview mirror.”

Officials emphasized people need to get fully vaccinated to be as protected as possible. A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after getting the second shot of a two-dose vaccine, like Pfizer and Moderna, or two weeks after the only shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The city has a free online calendar showing events, pop-ups and more where people can go to get vaccinated.

Chicagoans can also get vaccinated at home for free. Sign up online at Chicago.gov/athome or by calling 312-746-4835.

Vaccinations:

• In Illinois, about 6.3 million people of all ages — or 50.14 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — have gotten all their COVID-19 vaccine shots, according to state data.

• Across the state, 19,963 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.

• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 13,013,705 vaccine doses of the 14,506,095 provided to them.

• City data shows more than 1.38 million Chicagoans — or 51.5 percent of all residents — have gotten fully vaccinated. About 57.5 percent of all Chicagoans have gotten at least one shot.

COVID-19 vaccinations are free and do not require insurance. Anyone can call the city’s coronavirus hotline at 312-746-4835 to get more information on how and where to get vaccinated in their community.

The numbers:

• Nine Illinoisans were reported dead from COVID-19 since Tuesday.

• At least 23,392 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,462 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

• The state reported 958 cases since Tuesday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,404,466.

• Since Tuesday, 33,254 tests were reported statewide. In all, 26,444,494 tests have been reported in Illinois.

• Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate was at 2.7 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was at 2.6 percent Tuesday.

• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 3 percent. It was at 2.9 percent Tuesday.

• As of Tuesday night, 118 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 38 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.

• In Chicago, no deaths were reported since Tuesday. There have been at least 5,495 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of less than one death per day, a 25 percent decrease from the week prior.

• Chicago has had 138 confirmed cases reported since Tuesday. It’s had a total of 287,607 confirmed cases. An average of 100 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 74 percent increase from the week prior.

• At the same time, testing has decreased 3 percent since a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate was at 1.6 percent, up from 1.1 percent the week prior.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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